August 17, 2007

Hybiscus Endings & Field Flower Beginnings

It took exactly a week for the black ink to dry enough for the prints to come down from the drying line. Even today the ink's still tacky and needs to be drier before I can mat it but I wanted to make room on the line for the next project.

This is the final colour close up:



Now I'm working on my all Shina woodblock print. I began carving it last Saturday night and immediately remembered two things: 1) woodblock is not lino and 2) the tools better be sharp. Both are pretty obvious yet, naively, I still began carving the block without taking either into consideration so the first cut was a jagged, splintery, fugly line. So were the second and the third cuts and then I got wise and set about sharpening.
The problem is that, for all the years in the knife store where I not only told all those people how to sharpen their chisels and gouges and knives but also really sold them on how easy it is, I myself am (or was until this week) a total sharpening dummy. The concept is one thing; the practice is another. It's like spirituality really: you can know all kinds of truths and dogmas yet unless you really really know, then all of it is useless.

So, lack of proper sharpening knowledge in hand, I set about almost wrecking my good V-gouge, the one that came in a set (for Christmas) and that you can't buy again unless you buy the set again too -- not cheap. That's when R showed up, summoned by the sound of me gnashing my teeth in frustration no doubt, to give me some hints and the determination to keep going. And, like the zen koen about the girl seeing the moon's reflection in her bucket of water and becoming enlightened, the light suddenly came on. I'm not sure what flipped the switch exactly yet, suddenly, I knew what, and what I should be, doing. Then I not only resurrected the gouge, but also sharpened my knife and two other chisels -- two Japanese chisels I almost got rid of (fool) because they're not so great for lino. But they're great for wood and, hence, lino is not wood. After that, the wood really did cut (almost, wood's still wood) like butter. I did have to turn the block over (cool thing about working with wood) and start new on the other side but, no more fugly lines.

This is the rough sketch of the print design and the first colour down, printed today:


9.5" x 7.5"

I don't expect I'll get much more work done on it for a few weeks, given our upcoming trip to Nelson but so be it.

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